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Alber, Jens
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
WZB Discussion Paper SP I 2007-205
Turkey's position relative to Europe is analyzed from three different perspectives, i.e (i) the semi-official perspective of the Copenhagen criteria, the Maastricht criteria and the Lisbon strategy, (ii) the perspective of comparative surveys, and (iii) the perspective of key European worries regarding future strains on cohesion funds and the complex relationship of the Turkish population to European values. It is shown that Turkey's standing in international comparisons of good governance has been improving in recent years and that the country is on a path of convergence with the Maastricht criteria. Turkey falls considerably short, however, of the employment and education goals of the Lisbon agenda. Comparative surveys show the Turkish population to have not only a low standard of living, but also a very low level of satisfaction with life and with public services, to have comparatively little trust in other people and a low level of civic engagement, and to nourish traditional attitudes concerning religious beliefs, women's rights and gender roles. Since Turkey's admission to the EU would enlarge the EU population by 15 %, but economic output by less than 3 %, Turkey's accession would severely strain EU cohesion funds. Despite these reservations, Turkey's admission to the Union is here advocated for three reasons: (1) Risks of a fundamentalist backlash against Europe would considerably increase if the long-standing accession promise were not kept. (2) Given that the country is entering a very favourable demographic phase for about 2-3 decades, there is considerable economic opportunity with a vast growth potential. (3) Since the recent Eastern enlargements have already decided the debate between federalists and inter-governmentalists in favour of the latter, Europe has more to gain than to lose from Turkey's membership which would strengthen the country's ties to the West, and provide a chance of proving to the world that the motto of the European Union 'united in diversity' is a better model for the future of international relations than the scenario of a 'clash of civilizations'.
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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